Dear Brother E. S.
In our previous letter we looked at four decidedly different interpretations of 1 John 5:6. We suggested that two of these were not actually interpretations but applications: These were; first, that the “water” and the “blood” referred to the blood atonement (Lev. 16), and the water purification (Num. 19); and, second, that the “water” and the “blood” referred to the symbol water of believer’s baptism, and the “blood” to the symbol cup of communion in the Lord’s supper.
Since it is a firm conviction with us that the Scriptures must be interpreted first literally apart from any allegorizing, we proceed to examine the remaining possible interpretations.
The premise upon which this interpretation rests is the work of Christ for cleansing and acceptance. Christ died to procure these and when His heart was pierced, the literal sign of a broken heart was noticed, “Forthwith came there out blood and water.” The water, we are told, was the indication of acceptance before God because of His death.
According to verse 8, there are three witnesses on earth which are in perfect agreement, the Spirit, the water, and the blood. We might inquire into the subject of this unanimous witness. To us, the statement of this testimony is simply this, “This is He that came.” We might paraphrase the passage thus: This is He Who came (appeared) according to the testimony of the Spirit, of the water, and of the blood. The premise therefore on which the interpretation should rest is the personal appearing of Christ in the world as the object of victorious faith.
Christ appears in the world not in incarnation only, but in public demonstration. What are the two epochs which mark off His public appearing in the world? His baptism and His death; therefore, since He came “by water” this must refer to His baptism by which He fulfilled all righteousness; and “by blood” that must obviously refer to His death through which He glorified the Father. What a triumph over the world! The expression, “Not by water only, but by water and by blood”, might well be construed to mean that He did not come as His predecessor John, who came only with water or baptism, a confession of sin and its domination, but with no victory over it, that is without blood. The Lord Jesus came by water; He fulfilled all righteousness, and His baptism declares the perfect sinlessness of His life, His complete victory over the world. He came also by blood, for He triumphed over the prince of this world (Eph. 2:2, John 16:11 ) ; He overcame him in death (Heb. 2:14-15), and thereby secured, not only deliverance for Satan’s captives, but victory for them over the world.
These thoughts are submitted, not in the spirit of dogmatism, but in the hope of being helpful. We shall be very pleased to hear from you again, and from any other brethren who wish to contribute to this matter.